“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us…”
Nothing defines humanity like these words, they serve as a reminder that at the best and worst of times, we are human and as such our capacity to love is just as strong as that to hate. The hate that destroys us runs parallel to the love that unites us, and this year has seen its fair share of hate, some of the worst these past few weeks- 49 people were murdered because of who they loved and a few days after a young woman, a mother, was killed in cold blood doing what she loved- advocating for change.
These tragedies shatter our faith in humanity, it also doesn’t help that the world is a mess right now, and all the adults are to blame. Between the EU referendum and the US presidential elections, we might as well be in Kindergarten with the adults throwing the tantrums, in need of a time out. We have sunk to levels of depravity that should make us ashamed; one’s choice in life partner has become a political issue, religion, race, political affiliations, have become fodder for hate.
How did we get here?
In a few hours we will head to the polls to decide on the nation’s future, and that of generations to come. Hysteria has swept the nation, hate erodes common sense as we watch the drama unfold with both a sense of pride and shame. The world is digging in their heels awaiting the verdict, but we have already paid the price with our humanity. Thanks in no small part to the media I’ve never much cared much for politicians, they leave little to desire about them, but once a while one comes along and you are reminded that just like us, they are people too, they think and feel, and breathe and love, and lose and laugh and are good. Jo Cox was inherently good. Before she was a mother, before she was a wife, before she was a politician, before she was a woman, she was first and foremost a human being. One, by all accounts, who had done much good, yet had so much more to do. Wanted to do so much more. She was a fierce advocate for the disadvantaged and to hear the tributes lauded to her in the wake of her death, she was a rare breed amongst an ugly political landscape. On Thursday 16th of June her life was tragically cut short by a mad man with displaced values. She would’ve been forty-two years old today. Remember that.
“The immigrants are coming! The immigrants are coming!!” Politicians whip up a storm of fear that debases us even further. The media brands the refugee as scum with their propaganda, not a care in the world for the lives torn apart by wars waged in the West. Homes destroyed, they dare not go back or look forward, dare not hope for compassion so desperately needed. After this referendum, who knows what their fate will be. The arguments on both sides are steadfast- those in favour of remaining argue on the grounds of unity, and those against, argue for identity- but the substance is lost in the melee of the hate and hysteria. The world has become increasingly hostile to the disadvantaged, blaming them for actions that occur through no fault of theirs, the body of a child washed up on our shores fails to sway the powers that be to save the thousands of children stranded, afraid, and displaced. The hate is palpable.
As a generational immigrant, I know what it is like to live in a country with little freedom or choice, where the rich get richer and the poor, poorer. A military government that cared very little for the welfare of its country, ruled through fear and corruption. Not knowing where the next meal will come from or what the morning will bring. Life in Nigeria was uncertain- education, health, basic amenities became wealth commodities and the chasm between the rich and poor only widened. Gaining admission into university was on a, who to know basis and even when you gain entry it could take twice the time to complete your education and graduate because of lecturer strikes and social disruptions. Yet I count myself lucky, I have a family, parents, one recently late, who provided for me as best they could, siblings with whom I share much laughter and love. We survived. We found a home. Britain.
Britain, this diverse multicultural country- it is to its testament that the most popular takeout is Indian. To shop in Peckham is to make one feel like they are back in Lagos as you hear Yoruba and Igbo flowing. The weather is so shitty but it lends to its quintessence. The home of Shakespeare and Stephen Hawking, the place where a single mother on benefits can become a multibillionaire solely on her merit. A cup of tea is the national beverage and Football its religion on Sundays. What do we gain by staying? Who do we become by leaving?
Nothing is united when the core of it is in dissent. Whether you are for or against, we are bound together by our humanity, and it is this humanity that should inform our decision, more than anything else, as you stand in that ballot box on Thursday to make your voice heard. Whatever your opinion- despite the politicians and media’s best effort to divide us with propaganda, without facts that should inform our decisions- vote. Even if it is on grounds of moral fibre, vote because your voice matters, now more than ever before. We hold in our hands our destiny and in our minds the power to affect change and shape the future. Our future. We ought to do better. Show that we are a society of better human beings than we have seen these past few weeks, and in so doing we honour those who died doing what they loved, being with who they loved. And maybe, just maybe, we get to see the change we hope to become because we sure as hell need it.